During the Jan. 24 Central Coventry Fire District hearing in Kent County Court, Judge Brian Stern denied three motions submitted by the district's Board of Directors.
Prior to addressing the motions however, Judge Stern first heard a status report from board attorney David D’Agastino which included new payroll data, a summary of complaints filed with the state against the board, an update on labor relations with the firefighters' union and minimal new information with respect to the board's court-ordered contingency plan.
Petition to Authorize the Issuance of RFP for EMS Services
The first motion submitted on the board's behalf requested court authorization to issue a Request For Proposals (RFP) to obtain cost quotes for contracted Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Central Coventry.
According to the motion, board members intend to propose a contingency plan that would provide EMS to the district using a third party vendor, but must first determine the availability and financial feasibility of such services in the area.
In his reasoning for denying the motion, Judge Stern stated that the RFP lacked critical items, including mention of an evaluation committee and criteria, service requirements and statistics regarding call volume within the district.
"The court finds as a matter of law that it is not going to approve an RFP to go out that doesn't meet those legal requirements," said Stern.
Petition to Allow Board to Engage Bookkeeping Services
In the board's second motion, the petition requested authorization to hire David P. Krekorian, CPA, to provide bookkeeping services to the fire district. Krekorian was hired previously by the board to assist in formulating a budget and tax rate last September, and if approved, would have employed his firm's bookkeeper to perform the services at $40 per hour.
In its motion, the board claims to require bookkeeping services to allow regular tracking and updating of the district's operational expenses, cash flow and debt, as well as to review existing payroll records for accrued vacation/sick time and establish a regular reporting practice with figures updated weekly and monthly.
Before denying the motion, Judge Stern argued that although the bookkeeping services would be marginally helpful from an organizational standpoint, the request defers progress that could be made on the more pressing issues the court charged board members with upon their election.
"I understand that the accountant would be putting some controls and other things in place per your petition…so Central Coventry Fire District, when it closes, may have the most beautiful books and records there are," Stern said wryly. "But what I haven't heard is how we get from the point where at now to the next stage."
"I'll remind you that several months ago, the board's position was 'we need six months to put something in place'," Stern continued. "Now we're a few months into it and I'm not really hearing anything different other than the last petition to post an RFP."
Petition to Authorize Board to Sell Surplus Equipment at Auction
Judge Stern denied a third and final motion to sell off the district's unused, surplus and inoperable equipment at public auction, urging that a final ruling regarding a board-recommended liquidation must be made before any other actions are taken.
Before adjourning, he ordered a hearing to allow a final opportunity for parties to speak to the proposal of liquidating the fire district. All pleadings must be submitted to Judge Stern by Friday, Jan. 31 in order to be heard during the Feb. 5 hearing at 2 p.m. in Kent County Court.